Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two words

I may have mentioned a time or dozen that my mother is failing from the walk in the park known as Alzheimers.  And now that walk is nearing its conclusion. With her eyes dull and hands clenched, speech all but robbed from her, my mother lies in her bed barely moving but for the twitches she over which she has no control. And still, my little sister, my gem of a little sister who has walked every blasted step of this torturous journey with Mom, sits beside her, talking and holding those clenched hands, reminding Mom of the life she actually lived.

I just got off the phone with this sister, told Beve about the phone call, then texted RE to tell her I had to--was compelled to--write about her visit with Mom yesterday...if it was okay with her.  Yes, she texted back, so here I am, not five minutes later, sharing with you.

As RE sat by Mom's bedside yesterday afternoon, watching Mom's heavily-painted fingernails, she began telling Mom how much better she'll be in heaven, with a restored body and a clear mind once again.  "Won't that be great?" she asked the air around Mom's dull eyes.  Then RE was silent for a bit.  About thirty seconds later,  Mom said, "YES!" in a loud, clear voice.  Her eyes never touched RE's but that voice was present and real.  RE sat up in her chair and began to sing some of Mom's favorite hymns.  RE got Dad's musical ability but it didn't matter in that room. There was a sudden hope in her singing, thinking Mom was somehow present deep within her seemingly empty brain.

Then RE spoke of the people Mom will see again in heaven: her parents, whom RE called Mama and Daddy (for a long time RE was Mama in our mother's mixed-up mind), and her beloved husband, D. Our Dad.  Then RE listed all those still on earth who love Mom.  In order, R, me, LD, RE, and D.  Then the grandchildren.  Some spouses.  Sisters-in-law.  The list was quite long.  But when she finished and the room was quiet for a moment or two again,  Mom said something that, when RE told me, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck. In her own, ordinary voice, Mom said "Andrew."  Andrew.  Our lost, dead brother, whom RE hadn't listed either dead or alive.  Though it hadn't seemed that way, Mom had been listening.  Mom had been present in the lists, and knew who was missing.

Mom was there.  For a moment or two, anyway, she was there.  RE couldn't see it in her eyes, or sense it in her body, but two words brought her back for a time. Two words, one that says she knows where she's going, and the other that says she knows who she's been.  Short, succinct, and present words: Yes. Yes, I want to go home.  Yes, I am ready. Yes, I need to get out of this prison. Yes.  And our brother's name.  Our missing brother's name that she knew, that she somehow had held deep inside when everything seems to be long gone.  Andrew.  She remembers.  It's all there, waiting to be let free.

What a blessed hour RE spent with Mom yesterday.  Ending with prayer.  If that's the last time, it's sweet.  If Mom never says another word, those words are sweet enough.  Thank you for sharing them, RE.  Thank you for being who you are, the strong, stalwart one, caring for her even in the hardest hours.  I think she was thanking you by saying what she could. 
And it was good!

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